[ccfic caption-text format="plaintext"]
By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Having to replace fourteen seniors from last year’s team meant that the Westwood girls soccer team was going to have to come together extremely quickly. Unfortunately, the first game of the season was likely too early for the Wolverines to do that, especially against a team as good and as experienced as the Dover-Sherborn Raiders. As a result, Westwood was shut out in a 5-0 loss.
Just four minutes into the game, a long pass along the right sideline to Hope Shue led to a cross, and a beautiful volley from Alexis Rapo. This connection was responsible for another goal, nine minutes into the second half, on a similar series of events.
Beyond that, a beautiful ball floated over the goalie’s head from Annie Parizeau, and a penalty kick from Holly Cross commit Cerys Balmer rounded out the scoring, while senior goalkeeper Sabrina Doyle didn’t let anything by her.
After such a well-played first game, when pressed, second-year Raiders head coach Evren Gunduz wasn’t willing to single out any player for her performance, instead noting how well the team played as a whole.
“Honestly, I’m not going to give one name, because that was a team effort. Everybody moved the ball. Everybody shared the ball. Everything that was created was created by that team. The team really came through big today. I tip my hat to them - they did well.”
Gunduz praised his players’ effort, coachability and willingness to put the team above themselves as individuals. Still, while he acknowledged the win was a good one, and that Westwood is a tough team that’s going to give some people trouble in the Tri-Valley League, he made sure to note that there’s still a lot of work to do.
“Westwood is a good team and they worked really hard today,” said Gunduz. “They’re going to battle some teams this season the TVL. But this is such a strong league. We had a good day at the office today, but every day is brand new, and there are a lot of good teams out there, so we’re going to take it one day at a time. I know Westwood is going to be competitive moving forward, and we’re going to have to battle and keep getting better and better if we’re going to compete with the big guns in the league. So, we’ve got work to do, but we’re happy with where we’re at. I’ll take this.”
For Westwood and head coach Seth Lucash, the poor start to the game and to the season has to be put behind them. So, while he acknowledged the team didn’t seem ready to go from the beginning, there were still positives they could build on.
“We definitely had moments where we controlled midfield,” explained Lucash. “We need to do a better job getting our defense and our midfielders to push up when we have the ball, but we managed to shut them down for long stretches of time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly enough.”
The performance of Westwood’s senior captain, midfielder Tess Webb-Johnson, stood out to Lucash, who noted her performance was something the team could build around.
“Tess Webb-Johnson, one of our senior captains, had a great game controlling the midfield. I think we can build off that and get the other players to feed off that in the future. I know we can have more success than we did today, so we’ve got to just put this one behind us and look to game two.”
Westwood’s new players will undoubtedly jell better together as the season goes on, but when it comes to developing a team, there’s nothing like having shared experiences. Unfortunately, on Thursday, the new look Wolverines shared a bad loss.